Thursday, 1 April 2010

a new exotic sound

BAAP (the British Association of Academic Phoneticians) has just held its biennial Colloquium here in London. As usual, there were some excellent and thought-provoking presentations.
One particularly interesting contribution concerned linguolabial sounds. Linguolabials, articulated by the tongue tip against the upper lip, are very rare in the languages of the world. Nevertheless linguolabial plosives, fricatives, and a nasal are known to occur in a cluster of languages in the island state of Vanuatu. One of these languages is Tangoa. But until now there had been no reliable report of a linguolabial trill, if we discount an extrasystemic onomatopoeic ideophone alleged to be used in Coatlán Zapotec.

However, Olaf Lipor now reports that a voiced linguolabial trill has recently been discovered to be used contrastively in Caslon and Ki-Flong, languages spoken on the island of San Serriffe. The IPA symbol for this newly attested sound-type is r with the ‘combining seagull below’ diacritic, U+033C, thus [].

12 comments:

  1. Oh, this is so exciting. Just when we thought the age of exploration was over. Hopefully, this will finally spur someone to launch an expedition to find the elusive voiceless glottal nasal.

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  2. Gez Kelly suggests that I should add a link to http://tinyurl.com/yfr67ry.

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  3. LOL, laughing out linguolabially

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  4. You had me right up till "San Seriffe".

    Now I'm wondering what puns I'm missing.

    Happy Easter. (Or whatever salutation is appropriate - "Langfredag var en bitter dag, men skøn var Påskemårgen.")

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  5. http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/Hoaxipedia/San_Serriffe/

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  6. Last one, now. There is even a picture of our enigmatic (and anagrammatic) Olaf! See http://www.robbiewilliamsobsessed.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2692

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  7. Ditto as Sili. I've even attempted to reproduce that sound.

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  8. That's not our Olaf! Our man is of much longer standing:
    http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/blog0604.htm.

    A Google site search soon vindicated my conviction that this was a running gag of John's.

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  9. Oh dear. Is it April Fool's Day already? ;oP I shall endeavor to remain skeptical until midnight.

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  10. Now we can even "see" (and hear) Olaf: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PScoIztHsGM

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  11. I dunno whether this item is anything to do with April 1 or not, but linguolabials certainly occur in the Big Nambas language of Vanuatu. Greg Fox, who has published a grammar of the language (Pacific Linguistics), told me about them.

    Nambas, incidentally, is a penis sheath. The Big Nambas men wear big ones.

    Regarding the bilabial trill, I heard a Shanghainese speaker say the word jãpu 'cloth' pronouncing the /p/ as a bilabial trill. I asked him to repeat the word twice, and each time the bilabial trill occurred. Maybe it was just his idiolect.

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